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What Will Transportation Look Like Post-Covid?

The Sound You Don't Hear is the Autonomous Car Threatening Our OOH Livelihood

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The Sound You Don’t Hear is the Autonomous Car Threatening Our OOH Livelihood


Publishers Note

Fundamental change to transportation is happening now and will cause great damage to our #OOH Industry. We cannot continue to operate as status quo.

It is time to pull our collective heads out of our sand castles when it comes to recognizing the changes in personal transportation and fully autonomous vehicles will have to Outdoor Advertising.

Stop ducking the discussion with the pass the buck rhetoric, citing the number of years to cars on the road being ‘so far away’ is somehow relieving us of any responsibility to plan for its impact. That stance is woefully irresponsible. It is past time for the OOH Industry led by the OAAA, to face the fact that autonomous vehicles will be a reality much sooner than any of their predictions. The pandemic has accelerated transportation change and the appearance of the autonomous car.

Use Covid as the excuse to change your stance on self driving cars, if needed.  Please take the leadership role to begin a well resourced study with those entities who aren’t going to tell you what we want to hear, but what we need to hear. As OOH Today has said in multiple stories over the last 3 years; autonomous vehicles are coming and the potential impact could be disastrous on our Outdoor Industry. Let’s stop ignoring it and begin an accountable discussion for solutions starting within the Industry. 

For a well reasoned view on the future of transportation, please read the post below from
Cherian Thomas of Octopus Interactive. 


What Will Transportation Look Like Post-Covid?


By Cherian Thomas, CEO of Octopus Interactive




A frequent observation made during the Covid-19 pandemic has been that the wide-scale disruption caused by mitigation measures dramatically accelerated business trends that were already in motion but otherwise would have taken years to play out. Remote office work and video conferencing were fast-tracked during the pandemic, for example, as was the wholesale adoption of e-commerce.

One area that hasn’t gotten as much attention in post-pandemic scenario planning is personal transportation. Covid has caused a massive shift in U.S. workers from dense population centers to areas with more space, for example. A big part of that anti-urban migration has been attributed to the perceived health risks associated with mass transit.

The trend away from public transportation is but one small facet of the personal mobility revolution that’s coming. What started with the widespread popularity of hybrid and electric vehicles is going to move inexorably toward an emissions-free future of connected vehicles and increasing autonomy

The trend away from public transportation is but one small facet of the personal mobility revolution that’s coming. What started with the widespread popularity of hybrid and electric vehicles is going to move inexorably toward an emissions-free future of connected vehicles and increasing autonomy. Micro-mobility companies like Lyft bikes and scooters, Lime, and Spin will gain further footholds. Along the way, many of our daily behaviors will change. The future of personal mobility is going to look very different from what we’re accustomed to today, and our lives will likely be better as a result.

Phase One: Electrification
Perhaps the most conspicuous change that’s already underway in personal transportation is the shift to electric propulsion. Regardless of the macro-level debates ongoing in the subjects of climate change and public policy, the obvious trend is that electric vehicles will only become more common in the coming years, and will eventually take over the vast majority of the automotive market.

To witness this look no further than Tesla, the hottest name in the American automotive industry currently valued higher than every other automaker combined – at over $500 billion. In a very short time, Tesla has moved from being an obscure niche challenger to a behemoth. This isn’t because of Tesla’s superior profits, it’s due to Tesla being perceived as the industry leader in electric vehicles and autonomy. They skated to where the puck was going.

To witness this look no further than Tesla…They skated to where the puck was going

Early-on, Netflix bet on streaming to be the next frontier. This was before high-speed internet and ample broadband connectivity. 73 million subscribers later, Netflix is now the leader in SVOD thanks to making bets on the future–the way we would consume media 10 years hence.  Tesla’s market penetration with all-electric vehicles was made possible through a similar mindset, investing in the technology before charging station infrastructure had reached large-scale penetration.

Phase Two: Autonomy
When people think of autonomous vehicles they tend to think about fully driverless ones. That tendency, however, overlooks the fact that vehicle autonomy will be developed in stages.

Just as Tesla paved the way for large-scale electrification of vehicles, so has Elon Musk’s company led the way in vehicle autonomy. There are, in fact, six established levels of vehicle autonomy. Level zero means no automatic driving functions, level one means a simple automation like cruise control.

Contemporary Tesla vehicles have achieved level three autonomy, which means the vehicle can perform steering and acceleration with human oversight while monitoring the driving environment. Level four will entail the vehicle performing all driving tasks with human override. Level five represents the “fully autonomous” vehicle most people imagine when they think about the subject.

Phase Three: Freedom!
Once fully autonomous electric vehicles become commonplace, we’ll be in a position to rethink transportation entirely. People will summon a pod to whisk them to the office, and they’ll be free to spend their commute working, relaxing or watching some form of news or entertainment on a screen in the passenger compartment. This means the future of personal mobility will undergo a truly dramatic transformation, and it’s likely to happen in the next 10-15 years. It will free us from the century-old tedium of a daily commute.

Phase Four: New Efficiencies
For many years, automobiles have been unique consumer assets in that they begin to depreciate greatly and immediately upon purchase. Moreover, the typical personal automobile represents in an of itself a colossal inefficiency, spending the vast majority of its lifecycle in disuse.

Full vehicle autonomy will turn the humble automobile into an income-producing asset. Once your autonomous car has ferried you to work, you can free it to pick up passengers for profit. This transformation of an entire asset class will represent a huge step forward for society.

Like so many things that are changing rapidly in the wake of Covid-19, the future of transportation will be here before we know it. Just as streaming has made inroads against movie theaters and delivery platforms have brought more variety to at-home dining, new transportation paradigms are leading us toward a world that is far more convenient and saves us precious time.



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  1. gideon adey says

    I don’t drive a train, or a bus – but I still look out the window to see where I am.

    OOH locations may reposition to be more visible to passengers and pedestrians – but as long as people still leave the home there will be OOH.

  2. Jenn says

    This sounds similar to the ride share (uber/lyft) arguments of the past. So focused on the negatives but what is the actual problem? He highlights passengers will be on devices, in books etc….well, that already happens and has been happening.

    Learn how to embrace the change, step up the OOH game of creative, new ways to engage passengers and pull the heads out of the sand that OOH needs to stay the same. Evolve or die OOH industry! OOH needs to get with the times.

  3. No Fear No Favor says

    How now Gideon Adey? There are billions of dollars in OOH inventory riding on the opinion you share. Are you that confident based on your reply, Autonomous cars will not have a calamitous effect on OOH? Keep in mind you are not of the ‘screen generation’ of course you look out the window to see where you are. As for me, I make my time more productive, I would sleep and read. But that is a survey of two. Assuming we can get beyond the road blocks the OOH Industry throws in front of addressing this argument just as you have, that there is no problem here, we are suggesting preparation for the scenario where autonomous is successful and people do not look out there windows. What then? Are you suggesting the continued roadmap the industry is currently on? Are we all just to tighten our seat belts and hang on for what ever ride the future brings us? Or should we be studying the road ahead of us, steering own course and taking action to assure we (OOH) make it to our destination?

  4. Claudia Damas says

    Definitely something serious that will impact all of us in the industry and all of us in general. Perhaps we will have more eyes on the road for a period of time, since we will all be relaxed and not stressed with traffic, at least during the time of autonomous cars and before hyperloop-type travel takes place where we will travel at light speed? For awhile we might be enjoying the view as we go? Peter H. Diamandis & Steven Kotler agree with all of this exponential growth and support it in their book and their work, outside of being authors, The future is faster than you think. As an industry we must take this all into account and get ready to move with Moore’s and Rose’s Law. Let’s also remember that OOH is much more than just highway signs. Since cave-art we have been impacted people with messages, I have no doubt, we will no have trouble in continuing to do this.

  5. No Fear No Favor says

    “Remembering that OOH is much more than just highway signs, get ready to move with Moore’s and Rose’s Law.” Great comments Claudia Damas! Thank you.

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